How to Choose the Right Web Hosting for your Business


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All websites an blogs need hosting, and hosting is something that comes in all different shapes and sizes. So choosing the right web hosting package for your business can be daunting if you don’t know what to look for and how to evaluate your needs. After all, a video hosting site is going to have very different hosting needs than an online store which will have different hosting needs than a hobby blog.

Short of buying your own servers and housing your own rackspace, there are five general kinds of website hosting for you to choose from: (1) dedicated hosting, (2) managed hosting, (3) virtual hosting, (4) cloud hosting, and (5) shared hosting. Each of these are available for either Microsoft-based and open-source technologies, and have plenty of variations depending on the hosting provider and the packages they offer. But being familiar with the ins-and-outs of each can help you make a more strategic decision when you’re shopping around around.

Below is an over of each of these different kinds of hosting. If you have any questions or comments about what hosting might be best for you, please leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer you promptly.

Dedicated Hosting
When you choose dedicated hosting, you’re pretty much leasing a server and getting full control over that server. There are several advantages to choosing a dedicated hosting package. First, the dedicated server is housed offsite in your hosting provider’s data center, so you don’t have to invest in any actual hardware or additional infrastructure, such as redundant power systems. Second, a dedicated server is, well, dedicated to your sites and applications alone, meaning that no one else’s traffic is going to affect your load times. Finally, with dedicated hosting, your own IT team has full control over how the server is configured, so it can be customized and optimized around the needs of your business. This last advantage, of course, means that you need to have your own, in-house IT team, so if that’s not within your means, you might want to consider a different kind of package.

Essentially, dedicated hosting is designed for businesses whose primary product-offer an online one. These are companies who rely completely on the internet to exist and do business, and need to run a relatively large piece of technology to do so. On example of such a company includes an online retailer with a custom CMS that manages a large inventory and needs to be able to process thousands of queries a minute without any hiccups. Other examples would be interactive sites where thousands of users interact with one another regularly, or an ad platform that’s managing dozens to hundreds of ad campaigns across multliple domains.

Managed Hosting
The definition of managed hosting is when a business leases an entire server, but leaves the configuration and operating of it in the hands fo the web hosting company. So the business is not in full control of how the server works, but it can still manage its data through FTP or other remote management tools. Also, part of what the business is paying for is to have the hosting provider maintain its uptime and provide a guarantee of quality service.

Managed hosting can offer you all the bandwidth of dedicated hosting, but without the need to have your own in-house IT team deal with the servers. Since, managed hosting doesn’t give you full control over your server configuration, it’s not the best choice for companies who rely on running proprietary or customized technologies. Rather, it might be more appropriate for a business that has a relatively high-trafficked site that’s powered by a relatively well-established platform that’s either licensed or open-source. Examples might be an online newspaper or high-trafficked blog.

Virtual Hosting
This is when one computer is used to provide more than one domain. Essentially, virtual servers set-up as an intermediary between users and the real server, and used to balance server loads (i.e. load balancing)before queries are sent to a real server. This way the server itself only has to deal with certain requests, enhancing both load times and uptime.

Virtual hosting is a good option for business that receive a lot of traffic, but don’t have the kind of technology to warrant investing in dedicated hosting. An example would be a site that lets users access a blog, forum, and webmail interface all with one login. Each of these platforms are on the same domain but need their own server because managing different queries for different databases from the same users simultaneously might be too much for one server. So the virtual server receives the query and decides what “real server” to send it to, and the user gets a seemless experience across multiple platforms.

Cloud Hosting
This is a type of web hosting where a business leases a virtual server that’s dynamically scalable on an as-needed basis. This means that your hosting package can be adjusted on an ongoing basis as your traffic grows. Business also often have their choice of operating system and other infrastructure components, and cloud hosting is typically self-service, billed hourly or monthly, and controlled via a web interface or API. This means that if you’re going to go with cloud hosting, you should definitely have your own IT resources in-house to manage it. But chances are if cloud hosting makes sense for your business model, you have a technology-based company and those resources are already part-and-parcel of your team.

In fact, cloud hosting is perfect for tech start-ups who expect to go through several sudden growth spurts during the first few years they’re in business. These are tech companies that are sufficiently web-based that down-time is not only unacceptable, but potentially detrimental to their survival. Just think Twitter and the Fail Whale 😉

Shared Hosting
Like managed hosting, with share hosting you’re not not in full control of the server, can still manage data via FTP, part of what you’re paying for is to have the hosting provider maintain uptime. Share hosting is when you lease a spot on a server that’s already running several other sites for several other businesses. This makes for a very price-competitive hosting package because the costs are being shared by multiple clients. However, if another one of those sites is getting a lot of traffic, it can slow your site down.

That being said, share hosting is the logical choice for any company that doesn’t rely on the web to actual provide a service. Examples of such sites would be a relatively low-trafficked corporate site or personal blog. Neither of these are going to lose money if pages take a while to load from time to time.

Choosing a Hosting Provider
Choosing what kind of hosting you need is the easy part. Once you know that, you have to actually choose a hosting provider, and with almost as many hosting-review sites out there as there are hosting providers, making a choice can be tough. Essentially, you want to choose a hosting option based on (1) your business model, and (2) your technology.

So first, evaluate your business needs and decide what kind of hosting is right for your business needs. Then, start looking for reviews on that kind of hosting. Some companies excel at offering one kind of hosting but not another. So you want to make sure that you’re screening hosting providers based on what you’re actually shopping for. For instance, there are plenty more hosting reviews based on shared hosting experiences than on managed hosting experiences because way more people purchase shared hosting than managed hosting.

Finally, if your IT team is going to be managing your servers, get them involved in the shopping process. Because while you know your business, they know your technology, and will ask hosting providers the kinds of questions that can save you a lot of money and frustration down the line.

Jason Laloux
Jason is a freelance writer and marketing strategist that specializes in social media and content strategy. His work has traditionally focused on B2B products, such as web hosting and ERP solutions, but he also has a strong background in travel writing.



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